Review: End Times #3 / Author: Vin Davis, Troy Hargrove, Amy Walsh, Charles Anthony / Artist: Vin Davis, Charles Anthony / Publisher: Horrorgeddon Comics / Release Date: Out Now
Remember the horror comic scare of the 1950s? Perhaps not, but you might still be aware of a time when the likes of Eerie Comics, Tales From the Vault, Vault of Horror and a plethora of other things with “vault” in the title became the comics of choice for the discerning adolescent thrill-seeker. So much so that that the grown-ups came over all concerned with their shockingly corrupting content and decided to spoil the kids’ fun. Dr Fredric Wertham published his infamous Seduction of the Innocent and the American comic industry was forced to form the Comics Code Authority to make damn sure, among other things, that there was no suggestion of impropriety between Bruce Wayne and young Dick Grayson. Meanwhile in Britain the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act of 1955 was passed and made it compulsory for boys to read Dan Dare at least once a week . Something like that anyway; the details hardly matter. Of course, you can’t keep a good innocence-corrupting genre down and the Horror Comic ultimately survived even if it was never quite the same as its badly printed heyday. In fact, Dr Wertham would swoon if he were to pick one up today.
But Horrorgeddon Comics want to take you back to that golden era with End Times and, as their slogan goes, this is “Horror comics like they used to make them”. We love the idea and there is a certain attraction to reading this. We have four strip stories, an illustrated text tale with a couple of horror jokes, all linked together by your host, Mr. E, who keeps getting “readers” and “corpses” mixed up. This is pretty much the '50s format and each story’s twist-in-the-tail is present and correct. It’s enough to give any aficionado of geek history (isn’t that all of us?) a foot-warming glow of nostalgia. Unfortunately, that’s also End Times’ weakness. Do we really read a horror comic for a sense of nostalgia? Well, perhaps we do. After all, this writer watches more Universal and Hammer horror movies than can possibly be considered normal and he can absolutely assure you he doesn’t do it for the scares. Vin Davis has put in most of the work here with both writing and art and has done a sterling job. However, if you’re looking for some cutting-edge 21st century chills, you are probably going to be disappointed. In fact, an old-school horror tale like The Big One (that opens proceedings in this issue) would seem like it was right out of the '50s if it were not for the fact that it features a superfluous and ill-advised mobile phone. If they’re going to be retro, they might as well go for it, warts and all.
Having said all that, End Times is quite likeable and we’d recommend it as long as you buy into the idea and know exactly what it is you’re buying into. Dr Wertham can at least lie easy in his Pennsylvanian grave... or can he?